Update: Assange’s release has been delayed by a combination of a Swedish appeal and the inability of his supporters to pay the bail with Visa or MasterCard. An up to date version is here.
British judge Howard Riddle reversed course today, freeing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on 200,000 pounds (about $360,000) bail after refusing to grant him bail at a hearing last week. Assange reportedly agreed beforehand to travel restrictions and electronic monitoring as conditions for bail, but the terms of his release have yet to be released.
Funding for Assange’s bail came largely from restaurant designer Sarah Saunders, a personal friend of Assange’s who told the court she was willing to put up 150,000 pounds. Journalist John Pilger and filmmakers Michael Moore and Ken Loach also pledged to put up money.
The Swedish government intends to appeal against the decision to grant Assange bail, and such a move could come within the next couple of hours, but their reluctance to provide even a semblance of evidence against him is clearly grating on Riddle, and he is unlikely to seriously consider such a move without a major change in the attitude of the Swedish lawyers, who mocked his notion that they provide evidence as “irrelevant.”
In advance of his bailing, Assange met with his mother who was flown in by an Australian newspaper. Assange delivered a public message through her condemning Visa, MasterCard and PayPal for suspending WikiLeaks’ payments, and insisted the site would continue on despite the efforts to silence them.
Perhaps the oddest impact of Assange’s release, however, is that Bank of America’s common stock (NYSE: BAC), which was up strongly in the morning, took a small but noticable dip immediately after the news broke. WikiLeaks is said to be in possession of information that could “take down a bank or two” within the US, but it is unclear if it actually is Bank of America.
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